Saturday, June 30, 2018

Suspect In Maryland Newspaper Rampage Denied Bail

The Washington Times offers a piece on the killer who attack a newspaper in Maryland.

ANNAPOLIS — A man with a long grudge against Maryland’s capital-city newspaper was ordered held in jail Friday on five counts of first-degree murder after police said he blasted his way into the newsroom with a pump-action shotgun, killing five people in one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history.

Jarrod W. Ramos, 38, was swiftly arrested as he tried to hide under a desk Thursday afternoon at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, police said.

“The fellow was there to kill as many people as he could kill,” Anne Arundel County Chief Timothy Altomare said Friday.

Ramos was “uncooperative” with his interrogators, police said, and in court papers, authorities described him as “recalcitrant.” Appearing by video before he was denied bail on Friday, he appeared to watch attentively but never spoke. His public defenders had no immediate comment outside court.

State’s attorney Wes Adams said the judge’s finding that Ramos is a danger to society is justified because of evidence that he carefully planned the attack, barricading the back door so victims couldn’t escape, before using “a tactical approach in hunting down and shooting innocent victims.”

Ramos had a well-documented history of harassing the paper’s journalists, a feud that apparently began over a column about Ramos pleading guilty to harassing a woman. He filed a defamation suit against the paper in 2012 that was thrown out as groundless, and he often railed against its staff members in profanity-laced tweets.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Friday, June 29, 2018

Hemingway's Life And Legacy Inspire New JFK Museum Display

The Washington Times offers a piece on a new Hemingway exhibit.

BOSTON (AP) - A new Ernest Hemingway exhibition puts a fresh spin on the author’s colorful life and legacy by displaying his own books and belongings alongside pop culture items from his time.

“Ernest Hemingway: A Life Inspired” opened Thursday at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, which has become the leading research center for Hemingway studies.

Visitors to the expanded show will see manuscripts for “A Farewell to Arms,” ”The Sun Also Rises,” ”For Whom the Bell Tolls” and other Hemingway works - but they’ll also glimpse popular paperback books from the first half of the 20th century, as well as magazines, photographs and other mementos pulled straight from his world.

It’s an elaborate attempt to portray “Papa” in his proper context.

“It is now our pleasure to present a permanent Ernest Hemingway exhibit that tells the writer’s story by weaving together his literary masterpieces with his worldly inspirations,” said James Roth, the JFK Library’s deputy director.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

You can also read my Washington Times review of Terry Mort’s Hemingway at War via the below link:

And you can read my Washington Times review of The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway via the below link:

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Defense Intelligence Agency Bringing Forewarning Into 21st Century

Jim Garamone at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2018 — The adage “forewarned is forearmed” has entered the digital era at the Defense Intelligence Agency, as leaders, collectors and analysts there seek to adapt to the changing security and technological world, the agency’s director said at the Defense One Tech Summit here today.

DIA has the mission of compiling information and intelligence on foreign militaries and the operational environment the American military will confront, Army Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley Jr. told Defense One editor Patrick Tucker.

The agency is in the business of giving leaders strategic warning. “What are the emerging technologies that are coming out that we need to be thinking about?” Ashley said. “The other part of that is to inform the decision-makers and what they have to build to counter them.”

Hypersonics, anti-satellite capabilities, and sophisticated ground, sea, air capabilities must be countered, and the agency looks to gather information and intelligence on them Ashley said. The general talks often about analytic modernization. This concept deals with data. “How do we deal with big data? How do we deal with the wealth of information that is out there and available?” he said.

So much information is available that it is difficult for humans to digest it all, he pointed out. “One of the things we are working on now are analytic data teams,” he said. “How do we take a traditional analyst and link him up with a data scientist?” Ashley said he sees the job of an analyst morphing into that of a political scientist and data scientist in the future.

Growth of Space Domain

The agency is broadening its collection to deal with the new military domain of space. Ashley said he sees the domain growing over the next decade. “If you look to the National Defense Strategy, the central problem that it seeks to solve is [that] the technological gap that we have had the lead on is slowly collapsing,” the general said. “The goal is to maintain primacy and a leading role.”

Since 2001, the only domain the American military has been challenged on is the land domain, through improvised explosive devices and combat in cities. American dominance in the sea, air, cyber and space domains was not seriously contested by terror groups. “The re-emergence of great power competition – Russia and China – you start seeing a closing gap in all domains, and they are being contested,” he said.

Military capabilities to interdict satellites both in space and on the ground is possible, the general said. “In the warfighting doctrine, you have to account for the resilience you build into the domains, you have to build in redundancy, and in some cases, if it is degraded or denied, how do you fight in that realm?” Ashley said.

Reflexive Control

The general also discussed a concept current in the agency with regard to Russia – reflexive control – and it deals with hybrid warfare. The Russians use this to intimidate, coerce and scare nations into doing what is in Russia’s best interests. Ashley said the concept is an outgrowth of Soviet doctrine that the Russians continued to work on after the brea-up of the Soviet Union.

“Reflexive control is information operations [conducted] in such a way to drive you toward a decision or outcome that you think is yours,” he said. “[The Russians)]seed the information in such a way to drive you toward that decision.”

Identifying this is tough, the general said, using Russian involvement in Western elections as an example. “What’s happening now is you have a great deal of sensitivity across the European nations – they are actually looking for [reflexive control]. They are looking for those themes to ensure they will be able to put the truth out and counter to that.”  

National Health Care Fraud Takedown Results In Charges Against 601 Individuals Responsible For Over $2 Billion In Fraud Losses

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex M. Azar III, announced today the largest ever health care fraud enforcement action involving 601 charged defendants across 58 federal districts, including 165 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in health care fraud schemes involving more than $2 billion in false billings.  Of those charged, 162 defendants, including 76 doctors, were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics.  Thirty state Medicaid Fraud Control Units also participated in today’s arrests.  In addition, HHS announced today that from July 2017 to the present, it has excluded 2,700 individuals from participation in Medicare, Medicaid, and all other Federal health care programs, which includes 587 providers excluded for conduct related to opioid diversion and abuse.

Attorney General Sessions and Secretary Azar were joined in the announcement by Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Deputy Director David L. Bowdich of the FBI, Assistant Administrator John Martin of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Deputy Inspector General Gary Cantrell of the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), Deputy Chief Eric Hylton of IRS Criminal Investigation (CI), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Program Integrity Alec Alexander and Director Dermot F. O’Reilly of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS).

Today’s enforcement actions were led and coordinated by the Criminal Division, Fraud Section’s Health Care Fraud Unit in conjunction with its Medicare Fraud Strike Force (MFSF) partners, a partnership between the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Offices, the FBI and HHS-OIG.  In addition, the operation includes the participation of the DEA, DCIS, IRS-CI, Department of Labor, other various federal law enforcement agencies, and State Medicaid Fraud Control Units. 

The charges announced today aggressively target schemes billing Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE (a health insurance program for members and veterans of the armed forces and their families), and private insurance companies for medically unnecessary prescription drugs and compounded medications that often were never even purchased and/or distributed to beneficiaries.  The charges also involve individuals contributing to the opioid epidemic, with a particular focus on medical professionals involved in the unlawful distribution of opioids and other prescription narcotics, a particular focus for the Department.  According to the CDC, approximately 115 Americans die every day of an opioid-related overdose.  

“Health care fraud is a betrayal of vulnerable patients, and often it is theft from the taxpayer,” said Attorney General Sessions.  “In many cases, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists take advantage of people suffering from drug addiction in order to line their pockets. These are despicable crimes. That’s why this Department of Justice has taken historic new steps to go after fraudsters, including hiring more prosecutors and leveraging the power of data analytics. Today the Department of Justice is announcing the largest health care fraud enforcement action in American history.  This is the most fraud, the most defendants, and the most doctors ever charged in a single operation—and we have evidence that our ongoing work has stopped or prevented billions of dollars’ worth of fraud. I want to thank our fabulous partners with the FBI, DEA, our Health Care Fraud task forces, HHS, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, IRS Criminal Investigation, Medicare, and especially the more than 1,000 federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers from across America who made this possible. By every measure we are more effective at finding and prosecuting medical fraud than ever.”

“Every dollar recovered in this year’s operation represents not just a taxpayer’s hard-earned money—it’s a dollar that can go toward providing healthcare for Americans in need,” said HHS Secretary Azar.  “This year’s Takedown Day is a significant accomplishment for the American people, and every public servant involved should be proud of their work.”

According to court documents, the defendants allegedly participated in schemes to submit claims to Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, and private insurance companies for treatments that were medically unnecessary and often never provided.  In many cases, patient recruiters, beneficiaries and other co-conspirators were allegedly paid cash kickbacks in return for supplying beneficiary information to providers, so that the providers could then submit fraudulent bills to Medicare.  Collectively, the doctors, nurses, licensed medical professionals, health care company owners and others charged are accused of submitting a total of over $2 billion in fraudulent billings.  The number of medical professionals charged is particularly significant, because virtually every health care fraud scheme requires a corrupt medical professional to be involved in order for Medicare or Medicaid to pay the fraudulent claims.  Aggressively pursuing corrupt medical professionals not only has a deterrent effect on other medical professionals, but also ensures that their licenses can no longer be used to bilk the system.

“Healthcare fraud touches every corner of the United States and not only costs taxpayers money, but also can have deadly consequences,” said FBI Deputy Director Bowdich.  “Through investigations across the country, we have seen medical professionals putting greed above their patients’ well-being and trusted doctors fanning the flames of the opioid crisis.  I want to thank the agents, analysts and our law enforcement partners in every field office who work each and every day to stop these criminals and hold them accountable for their actions.”

“DEA is committed to ending the opioid crisis occurring in our communities and preventing prescription drug misuse,” said DEA Assistant Administrator Martin.  “DEA will continue to work with our partners every day to protect our citizens while ensuring that patients have adequate access to these critical medications.”

“This year’s operations, focusing on opioid-related schemes, spotlight the far-reaching impact of health care fraud,” said HHS Deputy Inspector General Cantrell.  “Such crimes threaten the vitally important Medicare and Medicaid programs and the beneficiaries they serve.  Though we have made significant progress in our fight against health care fraud; our efforts are not complete.  We will continue to work with our partners to protect the health and safety of millions of Americans.”

“It takes a special kind of person to prey on the sick and vulnerable as happened in many of these health care fraud schemes,” said Deputy Chief Hylton.  “Medical professionals and others callously placed individuals and vital healthcare services in harm’s way simply because of greed.  IRS-CI special agents continue to work side-by-side with other federal, state and local law enforcement officers to uncover these schemes and hold these criminals accountable for their actions.”

“CMS makes it a top priority to protect the health and safety of millions of beneficiaries who depend on vital federal healthcare programs,” said Alec Alexander, deputy administrator and director of the Center for Program Integrity.  “CMS’ Center for Program Integrity collaborates closely with our law enforcement partners to safeguard precious taxpayer dollars. Under Administrator Seema Verma, we will continue to strengthen this partnership with law enforcement in order to ensure the integrity and sustainability of these essential programs that serve millions of Americans.”

“Heath care fraud wounds our service members and veterans alike, as they rely upon and rightfully expect uncompromised care through the Department of Defense’s TRICARE Program,” said DCIS Director O’Reilly.  “Investigations that culminated in enforcement actions over the past several days underscore the steadfast commitment of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and our investigative partners to vigorously investigate fraud impacting TRICARE.  We remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure the high standards of care our service members, military retirees, and their dependents deserve while safeguarding American taxpayer dollars.”

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations are part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.  The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in 10 locations nationwide.  Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged over 3,700 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $14 billion.


For the Strike Force locations, in the Southern District of Florida, 124 defendants were charged with offenses relating to their participation in various fraud schemes involving over $337 million in false billings for services including home health care and pharmacy fraud.  In one case, an owner, medical director, and two employees of a sober living facility were charged with conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud, substantive counts of health care fraud, and substantive counts of money laundering.  The indictment alleges a scheme that illegally recruited patients, paid kickbacks, and defrauded health care benefit programs for widespread fraudulent urine testing.  During the course of the fraudulent scheme, the facility submitted more than $106 million in claims for substance abuse treatment services.

In the Central District of California, 33 defendants were charged for their roles in schemes to defraud insurance programs out of more than $660 million.  For example, one indictment in a compounding pharmacy fraud case alleges an attorney/marketer paid kickbacks and offered incentives such as prostitutes and expensive meals to two podiatrists in exchange for prescriptions written on pre-printed prescription pads, regardless of the medical need for the prescriptions.  Once the prescriptions were filled, members of the conspiracy submitted approximately $250 million in fraudulent claims to federal, state, and private insurers for the compounded drugs.

In the Southern District of Texas, 48 individuals were charged in cases involving more than $291 million in alleged fraud.  Among these defendants are a pharmacy chain owner, managing partner, and lead pharmacist charged with a drug and money laundering conspiracy. According to the indictment, the coconspirators used fraudulent prescriptions to fill bulk orders for over one million pills of hydrocodone and oxycodone, which the pharmacy, in turn, sold to drug couriers for millions of dollars.  In the Northern District of Texas, a home health agency owner was arrested on a criminal complaint for a $2.6 million health care fraud scheme.

In the Eastern District of Michigan, 35 defendants face charges for their alleged roles in fraud, kickback, money laundering and drug diversion schemes involving approximately $197 million in false claims for services that were medically unnecessary or never rendered.  In one case, a physician was charged in separate kickback conspiracies with two home health agency owners, which resulted in more than $12 million in fraudulent insurance billings.

In the Northern District of Illinois, 21 individuals were charged for various fraud schemes involving home health and dental services.  These schemes involved allegedly over $54 million in fraudulent billing.  One case alleges a home health fraud and kickback conspiracy, which resulted in more than $6.2 million paid by Medicare based on the fraudulent billings.

In the Eastern District of New York, 13 individuals were charged with participating in a variety of schemes including kickbacks, services not rendered, identity theft and money laundering involving over $38 million in fraudulent billings.  For example, the owner of a Brooklyn ambulette company was charged in a $7 million conspiracy stemming from the alleged payment of kickbacks for the referral of patients, who subjected themselves to purported physical and occupational therapy and other services, and were transported by the ambulette company.

In the Middle District of Florida, 21 individuals were charged with participating in a variety of schemes involving more than $21 million in fraudulent billings.  In one case, a physician and clinic owner were charged with a conspiracy to defraud Medicare of more than $2.8 million for fraudulent home health billings.

In the Southern Louisiana Strike Force, operating in the Middle and Eastern Districts of Louisiana as well as the Southern District of Mississippi, 42 defendants were charged in connection with health care fraud, drug diversion, and money laundering schemes involving more than $16 million in fraudulent billings.  One case alleges that three pharmacy owners and a nurse practitioner conspired to unlawfully dispense controlled substances and defraud TRICARE and private insurance companies out of $12 million.

In the Corporate Strike Force, five defendants were charged in the Middle District of Tennessee with a kickback conspiracy at a durable medical equipment company, which allegedly resulted in more than $1 million in kickbacks and over $2.5 million in fraudulent billings to Medicare.


In addition to the Strike Force locations, today’s enforcement actions include cases and investigations brought by an additional 46 U.S. Attorney’s Offices, including the execution of  search warrants in various investigations conducted by the Central and Northern Districts of California, Middle District of Florida, Southern District of Georgia, Western District of Kentucky, Eastern District of Michigan, Western District of North Carolina, Eastern and Western Districts of Texas, Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia, and Western District of Washington.

In the Northern and Southern Districts of Alabama, 15 defendants were charged for their roles in eight health care fraud schemes involving compounding pharmacy fraud and unlawful distribution of controlled substances.

In the Eastern District of California, four defendants were charged for their roles in two health care fraud schemes, one of which included forged prescriptions.

In the Southern District of California, seven defendants, including a physician, were charged for their roles in three health care fraud schemes and one scheme involving identity theft and services that were not rendered.

In the District of Colorado, a defendant was charged with health care fraud related to billings to Medicaid and Medicare.

In the District of Connecticut, three defendants, including two medical professionals, were charged for their roles in two schemes involving compounding drugs and unlawful distribution of Schedule II and IV controlled substances.

In the District of Delaware, a physician/owner of a pain management clinic was charged with unlawfully prescribing more than two million dosage units of Oxycodone products.

In the District of Columbia, a durable medical equipment company owner was charged with defrauding Medicaid of $9.8 million.

In the Northern District of Florida, four defendants were charged in a scheme to defraud TRICARE and other private insurance companies out of over $8 million for medically unnecessary compounded creams and pills.

In the Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts of Georgia, 12 defendants, including two physicians, were charged in nine health care fraud, drug diversion, or compounding pharmacy schemes involving over $13.5 million in fraudulent billings.

In the District of Idaho, three defendants, all of who are medical professionals, were charged for their roles in three separate fraud schemes involving controlled substances.

In the Central and Southern Districts of Illinois, seven defendants were charged in six separate schemes to defraud the Medicaid program.

In the Northern District of Indiana, eight defendants were charged in various health care fraud schemes to defraud both the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

In the Northern District of Iowa, two defendants – both medical professionals – were charged for their roles in two opioid-related schemes.

In the Districts of Kansas and the Northern and Western Districts of Oklahoma, 12 defendants, including four physicians, were charged in various unlawful distribution of controlled substances schemes.  In the Western District of Oklahoma, one case marks the district’s first time charging unlawful distribution of controlled substances resulting in a death.

In the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky, 12 defendants, including five medical professionals, were charged in various schemes involving health care fraud, unlawful distribution of controlled substances, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering.  One case involved the operation of two false-front medical clinics.

In the Districts of Maine and Vermont, two defendants were charged for their roles in two schemes to defraud various government programs including Medicare, Medicaid, and ones run by the HHS’ Administration for Children and Families.

In the District of Nebraska, seven defendants, including one physician, were charged in five separate schemes to defraud Medicare, Medicaid, and various HHS programs.

In the District of Nevada, four defendants, including three medical professionals were charged with conspiracies to commit health care fraud and distribute controlled substances.

In the District of New Jersey, eight defendants, including a New York doctor, an anesthesiology technologist for a Philadelphia hospital, and the owner of a medical billing company, were charged for their roles in five schemes to defraud private insurance companies of over $16 million.

In the Southern District of New York, two defendants were charged in schemes involving health care fraud or drug diversion.

In the Middle District of North Carolina, two defendants were charged with a conspiracy to defraud Medicare out of over $4 million.

In the Southern District of Ohio, three defendants – all medical professionals – were charged for their roles in two health care fraud schemes, one of which involved illegal drug distribution and kickbacks.

In the Eastern and Middle Districts of Pennsylvania, 12 defendants were charged for their roles in three drug diversion schemes.

In the Western District of Pennsylvania, four defendants – all physicians – were charged in various health care fraud and drug diversion schemes. One scheme involved 32,000 dosage units of buprenorphine.

In the District of Rhode Island, one defendant was charged for participating in a theft and aggravated identity theft scheme.

In the District of South Carolina, three defendants were charged for their separate roles in a conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute fentanyl.

In the District of South Dakota, two defendants were charged in separate cases, one of which involved a scheme to defraud the Indian Health Service.

In the Middle District of Tennessee, 10 defendants were charged in two separate schemes, including a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain oxycodone.

In the Eastern District of Texas, two defendants were charged for their role in health care fraud schemes to defraud the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

In the District of Utah, two defendants were charged in two cases, one of which involved a $31 million scheme to defraud Medicare and Medicaid.

In the Western District of Virginia, eight defendants were charged for their alleged roles in health care fraud schemes.  One $45 million scheme to defraud Medicaid involved falsification of documents in patient files.

In the Eastern District of Washington, a dentist and another individual were indicted for distributing and conspiring to distribute hydrocodone and tramadol without a legitimate medical purpose.

In the Eastern District of Wisconsin, three defendants were charged in a scheme involving the unlawful distribution of controlled substances and aggravated identity theft.

In addition, in the states of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, and Washington, 97 defendants have been charged with defrauding the Medicaid program out of over $27 million.  These cases were investigated by each state’s respective Medicaid Fraud Control Units.  In addition, the Medicaid Fraud Control Units of the states of California, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia participated in the investigation of many of the federal cases discussed above.

The cases announced today are being prosecuted and investigated by U.S. Attorney’s Offices nationwide, along with Medicare Fraud Strike Force teams from the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and from the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Southern District of Florida, Eastern District of Michigan, Eastern District of New York, Southern District of Texas, Central District of California, Eastern District of Louisiana, Northern District of Texas, Northern District of Illinois, Middle District of Louisiana, and the Middle District of Florida; and agents from the FBI, HHS-OIG, DEA, DCIS, IRS-CI, Department of Labor, other various federal law enforcement agencies, and state Medicaid Fraud Control Units.

A complaint, information, or indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This operation also highlights the great work being done by the Department of Justice’s Civil Division.  In the past fiscal year, the Department of Justice, including the Civil Division, has collectively won or negotiated over $2 billion in judgements and settlements related to matters alleging health care fraud.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Ahmed Abu Khatallah Sentenced To 22 Years In Prison For September 2012 Attack In Benghazi, Libya

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

Ahmed Abu Khatallah, aka Ahmed Mukatallah, 47, a Libyan national, was sentenced today to 22 years in prison on federal terrorism charges and other offenses stemming from the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya.  Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. government personnel Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty died in the attack at the Mission and the nearby Annex in Benghazi.

The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie K. Liu, Assistant Director Michael McGarrity of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, and Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office.

Khatallah was captured in Libya on June 15, 2014, and brought to the United States to face trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  He was found guilty by a jury on Nov. 28, 2017, following seven weeks of trial, of one count of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to terrorists, one count of providing material support or resources to terrorists, one count of maliciously destroying and injuring dwellings and property, and placing lives in jeopardy within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and one count of using and carrying a semiautomatic assault rifle during a crime of violence. 

According to the government’s evidence, Khatallah was a leader of an extremist militia named Ubaydah bin Jarrah, which operated outside the law, and in the months prior to the attacks, he sought to incite violence by his and other militia groups against the presence of the United States in Libya.  In early September of 2012, he and other members of his group mobilized for an attack by stockpiling truckloads of weaponry.

On the night of Sept. 11, 2012, according to the government’s evidence, Khatallah directed his group to carry out the violence, striking first at the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi.  A group of men, armed with AK-47 rifles, grenades, and other weapons, swept into the Mission compound, setting fires and breaking into buildings.  During that violence, Ambassador Stevens and Mr. Smith valiantly tried to protect themselves when the attackers stormed into a villa, but they were fatally overcome by thick, black smoke when the attackers set a fire.  A State Department employee, who tried to guide them to safety, was injured.

Before, during and after the attack, Khatallah maintained contact with his group in a series of cellphone calls.  Also, according to the government’s evidence, for much of the attack, he positioned himself on the perimeter of the compound and kept others, including emergency responders, from getting to the scene.  The government’s evidence also showed that Khatallah made calls to leaders of other militia groups warning them not to interfere with the attack.

Following the attack at the Mission, in the early hours of Sept. 12, 2012, the violence continued at a nearby CIA annex, first with gunfire and then with a precision mortar attack.  Mr. Woods and Mr. Doherty died in the mortar attack, and a State Department employee and U.S. government security specialist were seriously wounded.

This case was investigated by the FBI New York Field Office’s Joint Terrorism Task Force with substantial assistance from various other government agencies, including the two victim agencies, the CIA and the Department of State.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Crabb, Jr., Michael C. DiLorenzo, and Julieanne Himelstein of the District of Columbia, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney and Opher Shweiki.  Assistance was provided by Trial Attorney C. Alexandria Bogle of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth Kohl and David Mudd of the District of Columbia.

Assistance also was provided by Victim/Witness Advocate Yvonne Bryant, Paralegal Specialists Rayneisha Booth and Jessica Moffatt, Legal Assistant Matthew Ruggiero, and Victim/Witness Services Coordinator Tonya Jones, all of the District of Columbia. 

My Washington Times Review Of John Lehman's 'Oceans Ventured: Winning The Cold War At Sea'

The Washington Times published my review of John Lehman’s Oceans Ventured: Winning the Cold War at Sea.

As a young workaday Defense Department civilian employee in the mid-1970s, I watched with regret as the American military deteriorated after the end of the Vietnam War. As a Navy veteran who served on an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War, I was particularly saddened to see our once-great Navy diminished greatly.

This all changed when Ronald Reagan became president in 1981. President Reagan promised to rebuild the U.S. military — in particular, a formidable 600-ship Navy — to counter the Soviet Union’s military expansion.

John Lehman, a former Navy aviator, became Mr. Reagan’s secretary of the Navy and he served from 1981 to 1987. Mr. Lehman took the helm and guided the service toward that 600-ship Navy goal, which played a significant role in leading to the winning of the Cold War and the crumpling of the “evil empire,” as Mr. Reagan once called the Soviet Union.

Looking back at that crucial time in history, Mr. Lehman has written an interesting book called “Oceans Ventured: Winning the Cold War at Sea.”

… When Ronald Reagan became president and John Lehman became Navy secretary, the United States was losing the Cold War. The Soviets were building up their military during the years we were dismantling ours. In particular, the Soviet navy was working feverishly to become the most powerful navy in the world.

President Reagan led a bipartisan effort through Congress to fund the restoration of the Navy and Mr. Lehman conducted naval exercises, beginning with “Ocean Venture 81,” sending ships and aircraft dangerously close to the Soviet Union. This effort informed the Soviets that our expanding fleet could sink their submarines and takeout Soviet bombers and missiles while simultaneously striking deep inside the Soviet Union. The exercises also showed that the fleet could operate in Arctic waters, which no navy had previously attempted.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

Note: You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine Q&A with John Lehman via the below link:

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Nine Lives: My Time As The West's Top Spy Inside Al-Qaeda

Joshua Sinai offers a good review in the Washington Times of Aimen Dean’s Nine Lives: My Times as the West’s Top Spy Inside Al-Qaeda

This is a dramatic account by a young Muslim from Saudi Arabia who had become so radicalized into Islamist extremism that he decided in 1994 (at the age 16) to travel to Bosnia and join a group of al Qaeda-affiliated foreign fighters who were fighting on behalf of Bosnia’s Muslims against their adversary Croatian and Serbian Christian militias.

What makes this account so interesting and important (and how it became a CNN documentary) is that Bosnia was the first of many jihadi battlegrounds in Asia and the Middle East that Aimen Dean (a pseudonym) was involved as a fighter and a member of an elite bomb-making team (including attempting to build a chemical weapon) during al Qaeda’s formative pre-9/11 period in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

It was there where he interacted with a “Who’s Who” of its top operatives, including Osama bin Laden (to whom he pledged personal allegiance), Khaled Sheikh Muhammad (9/11’s mastermind), Abu Zubaydah (the group’s logistical manager) and Abu Khabab (the group’s top bomb-maker).

Even more compelling, eventually, in 1998, Mr. Dean became so disillusioned with al Qaeda’s mass killings of innocent victims in the August 1998 bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and elsewhere, which were part of what he considered its hypocritical ideology and self-destructive warfare and political strategy, that he defected and became a double agent on behalf of MI6, the British intelligence service.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

First Nationwide Undercover Operation Targeting Darknet Vendors Results In Arrests Of More Than 35 Individuals Selling Illicit Goods And The Seizure Of Weapons, Drugs And More Than $23.6 Million

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

Today, the Department of Justice, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Secret Service (USSS), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), announced the results of a year-long, coordinated national operation that used the first nationwide undercover action to target vendors of illicit goods on the Darknet. Special Agents of the HSI New York Field Division, in coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, posed as a money launderer on Darknet market sites, exchanging U.S. currency for virtual currency.  Through this operation, HSI New York was able to identify numerous vendors of illicit goods, leading to the opening of more than 90 active cases around the country. The Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, working with more than 40 U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country, coordinated the nationwide investigation of over 65 targets, that lead to the arrest and impending prosecution of more than 35 Darknet vendors.

These results were announced by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Executive Associate Director Derek Benner of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Special Agent-in-Charge Angel M. Melendez of HSI New York Field Office, Inspector in Charge Peter R. Rendina of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) New York Division, Assistant Director Kenneth Jenkins of the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) Office of Investigations, and Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) New York Division.

“Criminals who think that they are safe on the Darknet are wrong,” said Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein (seen in the below photo).  “We can expose their networks, and we are determined to bring them to justice. Today, we arrested more than 35 alleged Darknet vendors.  We seized their weapons, their drugs, and $23.6 million of their ill-gotten gains. This nationwide enforcement effort will reduce the supply of deadly drugs like fentanyl that are killing an unprecedented number of Americans.  I want to thank our federal prosecutors, and the dedicated federal agents with DEA, Homeland Security Investigations, the Postal Inspection Service, and the Secret Service for their outstanding work.”

 “The Darknet is ever-changing and increasingly more intricate, making locating and targeting those selling illicit items on this platform more complicated.  But in this case, HSI special agents were able to walk amongst those in the cyber underworld to find those vendors who sell highly addictive drugs for a profit,” said HSI Executive Associate Director Benner.  “The veil has been lifted. HSI has infiltrated the Darknet, and together with its law enforcement partners nationwide, it has proven, once again, that every criminal is within arm’s reach of the law.”

“Postal Inspectors and their law enforcement partners will spare no resource or expense to shine a light on the sale and distribution of illicit and dangerous items on the Darknet, that serve to destroy the lives of many through addiction and despair,” said Inspector in Charge Rendina.  “Today’s announcement of our law enforcement partnership and operation sends a strong message to those who choose this illegal path, we are watching and will bring you to justice for your crimes against the American public.”

“The Secret Service is proud to work with our law enforcement partners to help combat one of the largest threats to the U.S. financial infrastructure, money laundering with virtual currency,” said U.S. Secret Service Assistant Director Jenkins.  “The Secret Service continues to adapt along with these cyber criminals to maintain our level of success in stopping them.”

“At this crucial time of unprecedented drug related deaths, one of the greatest threats we face is cyber drug trafficking,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Hunt.  “Because the Darknet invites criminals into our homes, and provides unlimited access to illegal commerce, law enforcement is taking steps to identify and arrest those involved. I applaud all the agencies who participated in this groundbreaking investigation.”

 The extensive operation, which culminated in four weeks of more than 100 enforcement actions around the country, resulted in the following:

Federal arrests of more than 35 Darknet vendors who engaged in tens of thousands of sales of illicit goods;

Execution of 70 search warrants, resulting in the seizure of massive amounts of illegal narcotics, including 333 bottles of liquid synthetic opioids, over 100,000 tramadol pills, 100 grams of fentanyl, more than 24 kilograms of Xanax, and additional seizures of Oxycodone, MDMA, cocaine, LSD, marijuana, and a psychedelic mushroom grow found in a residence;

Seizure of more than 100 firearms, including handguns, assault rifles, and a grenade launcher;
Seizure of five vehicles that were purchased with illicit proceeds and/or used to facilitate criminal activity;

Seizure of more than $3.6 million in U.S. currency and gold bars;
Seizure of nearly 2,000 Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies, with an approximate value of more than $20 million;

Confiscation of 15 pill presses, which are used to create illegal synthetic opioids; and
Seizure of Bitcoin mining devices, computer equipment, and vacuum sealers.

 Amongst those charged federally, include:

Antonio Tirado, 26, and Jeffrey Morales, 32, of the Bronx, New York, were arrested on June 18, and separately charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York with distribution and possession with intent to distribute narcotics, including cocaine, LSD (also known as “acid”), marijuana, and hashish oil.  Additionally, Tirado was charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of his drug trafficking offenses.  Following an investigation into a Darknet marketplace vendor using the moniker “Trapgod,” investigators executed search warrants at homes in two residential neighborhoods in the Bronx leading to Tirado and Morales.  

As alleged in the complaints, during the execution of the search warrants at the Tirado and Morales residences, agents seized controlled substances including powder cocaine, marijuana, and LSD, as well as various precursor powders, liquids, and reagents, and other narcotics-related paraphernalia including marijuana growing equipment, a home chemistry lab, scales, and heat sealing packaging materials.  In Tirado’s home, agents recovered a fully loaded shotgun alongside a narcotics stash.  Investigators in Tirado’s apartment recovered additional evidence of Darknet narcotics distribution, such as numerous U.S. Postal Service shipping boxes, already addressed to customers around the United States, which boxes contained hairbrushes some of which had already been packed with powder cocaine for distribution.

Jian Qu, 30; Raymond Weng, 24; and Kai Wu, 22, all of Queens, New York, along with Dimitri Tseperkas, 22, and Cihad Akkaya, 22, of Middle Island and Port Jefferson, New York, respectively, were each arrested on June 18, and charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York with participation in a conspiracy to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.  Tseperkas and Akkaya were also charged with firearms offenses relating to the drug conspiracy.  Investigators monitoring Darknet marketplaces found accounts used by some of the conspirators, leading agents to execute search warrants at three addresses in residential communities in Flushing and Mt. Sinai, New York.  From the residences, agents recovered approximately $400,000 in U.S. currency, 140 kilograms of suspected marijuana and an additional 10 kilograms of suspected marijuana vape cartridges, 12 kilograms of suspected Xanax pills, over half a kilogram of suspected ecstasy, four pill presses, mixers, and pill press parts, over a dozen kilograms of various powders, packaging materials, and paraphernalia.   

While searching the residence where Akkaya and Tseperkas were found, investigators recovered three loaded shotguns, including a tactical double-barreled shotgun loaded with 14 shells, and over 50 shotgun shells, as well as significant quantities of narcotics, packaging materials, and paraphernalia including a money-counting machine.  Review of electronic evidence recovered from the residences proved the conspirators’ connections to Darknet marketplaces, use of cryptocurrency, and narcotics distribution schemes.

Ryan Farace, 34, of Reisterstown, Maryland, and Robert Swain, 34, of Freeland, Maryland, were charged by the U.S Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland related to a scheme to manufacture and distribute alprazolam tablets, which are typically sold under the brand name “Xanax.”  

The indictment alleges that Farace distributed the drugs through sales on the dark web in exchange for Bitcoin, and that Farace and Swain laundered the drug proceeds through financial transactions designed to conceal the source and ownership of the illegal funds.   To date, law enforcement has seized various crypto currency, to include bitcoin, valued at over $22 million at the time of the seizures, and over $1.5 million in cash, which was seized from Farace’s residence upon the execution of a search warrant on Jan. 18.  As part of the indictment, the government seeks the forfeiture of no less than $5.665 million, plus the value of 4,000 Bitcoin believed to be the proceeds of the illegal drug sales, two residences, and a vehicle used to facilitate the drug distribution.

Nicholas J. Powell, 32, and Michael Gonzalez, 27, former and current residents of Parma, Ohio, respectively, were charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and laundering money using the dark web.  The complaint alleges that Powell used various monikers on Darknet marketplaces as part of his criminal scheme, including “TheSource,” “BonnienClyde,” BnC,” “BCPHARMA,” and “Money TS.”  The conspiracy operated on multiple Darknet marketplaces, including Silk Road 2, AlphaBay, and HANSA.  The conspiracy involved distributing Xanax, steroids, marijuana and other drugs across the country using these and other Darknet monikers.  Powell and Gonzalez would then launder the funds as cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Etherium, and Komodo through individuals specializing in money laundering on Darknet marketplaces.  At the time of arrest, law enforcement had already seized approximately $437,000 in cryptocurrencies from Powell.

Jose Robert Porras III, 21, and Pasia Vue, 23, both of Sacramento, were charged with drug distribution, money laundering, and illegally possessing firearms, in a 16-count indictment returned by a grand jury in the Eastern District of California. According to the indictment, Porras and Vue were using the online monikers “Cannabars” and “TheFastPlug,” to distribute marijuana, Xanax, and methamphetamine on various dark web marketplaces, including Trade Route, Wall Street Market, and Dream Marketplace.  Porras and Vue then laundered the Bitcoin proceeds of their drug distribution through the HSI undercover agent located in New York.  After receiving the Bitcoin from Porras and Vue, the undercover agent mailed parcels of cash to them in Sacramento. HSI and USPIS agents seized nine weapons including an AK-47 magazine and ammunition, 30 pounds of marijuana, $10,000 in U.S. currency, a vehicle, and over 100 bars of Xanax.

Sam Bent, 32, of St. Johnsbury, Vermont (and formerly of East Burke, Vermont), and his cousin, Djeneba Bent, 26, also of St. Johnsbury (and formerly East Burke) were charged with conspiracy to distribute LSD, MDMA (also known as “ecstasy”), cocaine, and marijuana in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the District of Vermont.  The indictment alleges that the conspiracy involved setting up accounts on dark web marketplaces, establishing online identities, accepting Bitcoin in exchange for sales over the dark web, and mailing controlled substances from several different post offices in Northeastern Vermont and Northwestern New Hampshire in an effort to avoid detection.   The indictment also charges Sam Bent with four counts of money laundering involving three different exchanges of bitcoin drug distribution proceeds for U.S. currency.

In Fresno, California, a federal grand jury returned an 11-count indictment on May 17, against Daniel Boyd McMonegal, 35, of San Luis Obispo and Mariposa, California, charging him with drug distribution and money laundering in the Eastern District of California.  According to the indictment, McMonegal, using the online monikers “Sawgrass,” “Ross4Less,” and “ChristmasTree,” distributed marijuana on various dark web marketplaces, including Dream Market.  McMonegal was also the owner of a marijuana delivery service in San Luis Obispo called West Coast Organix, which claimed to be a non-profit medical marijuana cooperative.  McMonegal then laundered the Bitcoin proceeds of his drug distribution through an undercover agent located in New York.  After receiving the Bitcoin from McMonegal, the undercover agent mailed parcels of cash to McMonegal in San Luis Obispo and Mariposa.

More than 50 Darknet vendor accounts were identified and attributed to the real individuals selling illicit goods on Darknet market sites such as Silk Road, AlphaBay, Hansa, Dream, and others. HSI-New York Field Division and MLARS coordinated with law enforcement and federal prosecutors to investigate 65 targets identified by the undercover operation in more than 50 Federal districts, including: the District of Arizona, the Eastern District of Arkansas, the Western District of Arkansas, the Central District of California, the Eastern District of California, the Northern District of California, the Southern District of California, the District of Colorado, the District of Connecticut, the Middle District of Florida, the Northern District of Florida, the Southern District of Florida, the Northern District of Iowa, the District of Kansas, the District of Maryland, the Eastern District of Michigan, the District of Minnesota, the Eastern District of North Carolina, the Western District of North Carolina, the District of New Hampshire, the Northern District of New York, the Southern District of New York, the Western District of New York, the District of North Dakota, the Northern District of Ohio, the Southern District of Ohio, the District of Oregon, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the District of South Carolina, the District of South Dakota, the Eastern District of Texas, the Northern District of Texas, the Southern District of Texas, the Western District of Texas, the Eastern District of Virginia, the District of Vermont, the Eastern District of Washington, and the Western District of Washington.  FBI was part of the investigative team in the Northern District of California.  

The investigation is ongoing. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

Defense Department: Chinese Actions Threaten U.S. Technological, Industrial Base

Lisa Ferdinando at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2018 — Defense Department officials warned lawmakers today about the unprecedented threats DoD is facing to its technological and industrial base, as China and other nations actively seek out advanced technology and intellectual property.
"We are here to underscore the urgency with which all of us must focus our actions to maintain our technological and military dominance," Michael D. Griffin, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, told the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel subcommittee.

Chinese actions include theft of technology and intellectual property through the exfiltration of the work of others, Griffin said in a hearing on military technology transfer.

“The breadth and depth of Chinese malfeasance with regard not only to our technology, but also to our larger economy and our nation, is significant and intentional,” he said.

Griffin appeared before the committee with Kari A. Bingen, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence; Eric Chewning, deputy assistant secretary of defense for manufacturing and industrial base policy; and Anthony M. Schinella, national intelligence officer for military issues at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Maintaining Global Military Advantage

The United States remains the world’s pre-eminent military power, Griffin and the other witnesses said in a joint written statement.

“However, in order to continue to maintain this advantage in an environment of vigorous world competition, we must remain vigilant and employ whole-of-government approaches to the problem set at hand,” they said.

To do that, they explained, the Defense Department not only must adapt to the environment, but also must remain the drivers of global technological advances.

“We must get within the decision loops of our adversaries,” they said. “We must increase the speed and efficiency at which we educate, invent, adapt, prototype and demonstrate to respond to current and future threats to ensure and preserve our dominance in the field.”

China Seeks Advanced U.S. Technologies

The threats are putting at risk the capabilities critical to the United States maintaining its military advantage, Bingen said.

“China, in particular, has made it a national goal to acquire foreign technologies to advance its economy and to modernize its military,” she said. “It is comprehensively targeting advanced U.S. technologies and the people, the information, businesses and research institutions that underpin them.”

China, she said, is using a variety of methods to steal information from the United States and to exploit and circumvent processes. The Defense Department is making significant changes in its approach to industrial and information security, as well as to counterintelligence, she pointed out.

‘Multifaceted Threat’ to United States

China has acquired proprietary technology and early stage ideas through cyber-enabled means, Schinella said. Some actors use largely legitimate legal transfers and relationships to gain access to research fields, experts and key enabling industrial processes that could, over time, erode America's long-term competitive advantages, he explained.

China and Russia are among the nations that recognize that investing in and acquiring technology is essential to achieving their strategic goals, Schinella said.

“They want to develop weapons systems that strike farther, faster, harder and more precisely as a means to erode the traditional pillars of U.S. military strength and challenge the United States in all warfare domains,” he said.

The threat from China, Chewning pointed out, has the potential for both long- and short-term impacts.

“Chinese industrial policies of economic aggression, such as investment-driven technology transfer and illegal intellectual property theft, pose a multifaceted threat to our entire national security innovation base,” he said. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain Spoke At The Delaware Valley Intelligence Center Regional Roundtable in Philadelphia

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain (seen in the below photo) was honored to speak today at the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center Regional Roundtable in Philadelphia, PA. The Delaware Valley Intelligence Center (DVIC) was established to create cross-jurisdictional partnerships between agencies and serves as the informational fusion center for the Delaware Valley region. U.S. Attorney McSwain’s remarks are below.

Thank you all for gathering here today. I would especially like to thank Inspector Walter Smith, Executive Director of the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center, Philadelphia Police Department, and Stacy Irving, Senior Advisor, Homeland Security Planning & Strategic Partnerships, Delaware Valley Intelligence Center, Philadelphia Police Department, for inviting me to speak. It was not too long ago that many of us were gathered in this same place for the 2018 Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council Conference, which was an in-depth and highly educational program that helped all of us to further our collective mission of keeping our country safe.

Safeguarding our national security is critically important to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, just as it is for everyone here today. It is also, without question, the number one priority of the U.S. Department of Justice. The Department of Homeland Security has prioritized state and major urban area fusion centers such as this one, because they know that intelligence collection and information sharing are critical in this fight. That is why the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center is so important. This cross-jurisdictional partnership between local, state, and federal agencies, as well as private sector participants, ensures that the Delaware Valley region has a community-focused public safety strategy. Everyone benefits from a continuous flow of intelligence and information to assist public safety field operations.

Our region has already seen firsthand how these relationships can help. For example, on May 12, 2015, an Amtrak Northeast Regional Train derailed after departing Philadelphia on its way to New York, which was the worst train disaster that our area has experienced in decades. Moments after the crash, emergency calls went out across the area, and scores of first responders from federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities responded. There is no doubt that authorities knew who to call that day because of relationships built through groups like this one.

We can only succeed with the collaboration and partnership of each of you. And those partnerships cannot be built in a day. We all need to work together when times are good so that we know what to do and who to call when they are not. To this end, one of my first initiatives after I became U.S. Attorney in April was to visit the nine counties that make up the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and meet with their district attorneys and local law enforcement leaders. It is a priority of my Office to continue to foster these relationships and always keep our lines of communication open. These personal connections are crucial to successful prosecutions everywhere across this region.

Additionally, I want law enforcement to know how much my Office appreciates them. The first public speech that I gave after becoming U.S. Attorney was to the Philadelphia Police Department leadership and to recruits at the Police Academy. As I said to them, no prosecutor has ever prosecuted any case without the help of an outstanding law enforcement partner, whether that is at the federal, state, or local level. There are no greater heroes than those in law enforcement who have dedicated their lives to keeping our communities safe – to the point that they’re willing to risk their own lives to do it. And there is no better way to support law enforcement than to make sure that they have the assistance needed to protect our community from terrorism.

I am aware of some of the difficulties in prosecuting national security cases. There are many law enforcement partners to consult and so many levels of review in the Department of Justice that it often may feel difficult to see a prosecution through to its natural conclusion. I want to share with you that the Department of Justice is working to eliminate some of those hurdles. DOJ has put new procedures in place to streamline the review process to make sure that if a national security prosecution is the correct approach, DOJ will have the most efficient process in place to pursue these significant cases.

My Office has had great success in the past few years in our efforts to prosecute national security cases and hold people accountable for terrorism, violations of the Armed Export Control Act, and cybercrime. For example, Keonna Thomas, a Philadelphia woman who was charged and pled guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization, was sentenced to eight years in federal prison. Thomas plotted to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State and told another individual that taking part in a martyrdom operation “would be amazing.” This case, prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Williams and a colleague from the Counterterrorism Section in the Justice Department’s National Security Division, was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Philadelphia Police Department.

And many terrorism cases involve agency partnerships not only at home, but also abroad. Ali Charaf Damache, also known as “Theblackflag,” was indicted in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in 2011 and extradited from Spain last year for his involvement in conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists. He is currently awaiting trial. Two of his co-conspirators, Colleen LaRose (also known as “Jihad Jane”) and Jamie Paulin Ramirez (also known as “Jihad Jamie”), have previously pled guilty and are serving ten years and eight years in prison, respectively. Again, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Williams prosecuted these cases in conjunction with the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, the Office of International Affairs in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Philadelphia, the FBI Field Divisions in New York, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and authorities in Ireland and Spain. Sometimes it takes many hands and many minds across the globe to get the job done right.

Our National Security section in the U.S. Attorney’s Office does not only focus only on traditional terrorism cases. For example, we uphold the Arms Export Control Act, which prohibits the export of high tech military technology that is critical to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States. We must keep important technology out of the hands of potential adversaries. In United States v. Baltutski, we charged a group of individuals who conspired to purchase and unlawfully export night vision devices to Belarus. Baltutski arranged for hundreds of thousands of dollars to be secretly wired, via offshore shell companies, to purchase these items, pay for shipping, and pay his network of buyers. For his efforts, Baltutski received a sentence of 15 years’ incarceration, which is one of the longest sentences under the Armed Export Control Act in U.S. history. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Livermore and colleagues from DOJ’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, and the National Security Division, and was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI. That case took extensive and dedicated investigative work to result in such a significant sentence.

We also continue to defend ourselves from cybercrime attacks. More and more criminals are exploiting the convenience and anonymity of the Internet to commit crimes and cause serious interruptions and destruction across the United States and around the world. It is my belief that cybercrime will only become more sophisticated, as technology advances and criminals seek to invade and destroy our financial markets, electrical power grids, emergency response systems, and nuclear plants, often from the comfort of their own homes. In the last few years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has successfully prosecuted numerous cybercrimes, including individuals who hacked into everything from a gas company’s computers, to systems that read utility meters remotely, to Comcast’s server. We are dedicated to continuing our efforts in this field.

And this really just scratches the surface. As you all know, so many of our cases and investigations are not currently public. And many matters do not end in prosecution, but instead produce new investigative leads and sources of information that can be equally (if not more) valuable than a case in the court system.

As we have been sadly reminded by recent events, not all terrorism is international. Far too often in this country, we as a nation have grieved the brutal murders of innocent people as a result of mass shootings and domestic terrorism. Americans should be safe from such terror, no matter who or where they are. Studying in school or going to work, worshiping at church or cheering for friends at a marathon, relaxing at a movie theater or enjoying an evening at a night club – all of these activities should be safe-havens for every American. But as we know, places like these have turned into horrific crime scenes over the past few years where innocent lives have been lost. One more mass shooting is one too many.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office takes seriously every threat of gun violence in our community and will do everything in our power to prevent tragedy from occurring. As but one example, we recently charged An-Tso Sun by federal complaint with possessing ammunition while being in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, which is a felony under federal law. According to the complaint, on or about March 26, 2018, Sun told a fellow student, “Hey, don’t come to school on May 1st . . . I’m going to come here armed and shoot up the school.” Then he added: “Just kidding.” But this was no laughing matter, as the complaint alleges that multiple items were recovered from Sun’s bedroom, including stockpiles of ammunition, and various firearm accessories and shooting equipment. This case is on-going.

I am proud to say that this was another example of numerous investigative and operational bodies working together. From the student who first reported the alleged threat, to the Upper Darby Police Department and the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, to the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations and my Office, we worked together to successfully prevent a potential school tragedy.

But we cannot do it alone. I recently addressed the media about the An-Tso Sun case and I urged all parents and citizens to take notice of what is going on around them. We need to remind people that law enforcement is not the first line of defense. That duty belongs to our citizens. They are the ones who will see the first clues that something is amiss in their everyday lives. They are the ones who might get a bad feeling about something at their schools, in their offices, during their social activities, and who will need to pick up the phone. As a group, we need to continue to encourage people to make that call. There are too many stories of parents, of teachers, of neighbors, who belatedly say they “always knew something was wrong” about someone in their lives, but they didn’t sound the alarm and instead chose to stick their heads in the sand. We need them to make the call.

When they do make the call, they will call one of us. And because of the partnerships built through cooperative intelligence centers like DVIC, we will be ready.

Thank you for your partnership with my Office, thank you for all that you do for our community, and God Bless you.

Note: You can read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center via the below link: